The Mermaid Inn, Mermaid St, Rye TN31 7EY. Roughly £150 per double room, per night.
Originally built in 1156, the historic Mermaid Inn Hotel on Mermaid Street, Rye, is the obvious choice for any weekend break in this charming town. Favoured by smugglers’ The Hawkhurst Gang in the 18th century and reportedly haunted by a number of ghosts, it also offers award-winning fine dining and a great chance to relax.
Style and atmosphere
Based on the ancient main road of the town, it’s situated on a stunning and steep cobbled street surrounded by equally distinctive medieval buildings. Walking up Mermaid Street towards to inn is like taking a step back in time, with original beams, cascading rooftops and warped windows making an unforgettably charming first impression.
Once you enter the inn, there are several points of interest. The jagged floors, winding hallways, low-beamed ceilings, and portraits of patrons from centuries gone by painted directly on the walls, as you walk down towards the Giant’s Fireplace Bar.
A tourist attraction in and of itself, the inn would be ideal for anyone with an interest in history, or even ghost stories. After reading and watching videos interviewing the owners on the ghostly goings on, it’s easy to find yourself double checking what’s visible in the corner of your eye and feeling a bit of a rush in the darker corridors upstairs.
That said, I didn’t see anything untoward but the waiter at dinner told us a little story which I’ll paraphrase below:
One night in the Giant’s Fireplace Bar we were closing up and the door that leads out to the back of the hotel flew open, as if you’d expect someone to walk in, but no one was there. We had also believed it was already locked shut for the night.
We stayed in a double room overlooking Mermaid Street, with a en-suite shower. It was a medium sized double room with plenty of space for two and included tea and coffee facilities, towels and toiletries. The bed was comfortable and whilst new, was styled to fit the overall look of the inn, and everything was clean and tidy.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Tea, coffee and biscuits
- Room service
- Shower room
For this booking, I had requested a room with a view over Mermaid Street and it didn’t disappoint. Waking up to see the cobbled streets right in the heart of Rye was heartwarming and exactly what I wanted from a stay here.
With older properties, you often find rooms aren’t as sound proofed as modern hotels. We could hear other guests talking and TVs in the background but this comes with the territory and I’ve definitely experienced much worse. Overall, a very comfortable room and in my opinion, good value for money when split between two (breakfast was also included).
Food and drink
The Giant’s Fireplace Bar is a must-visit and is decorated with hanging vines and blackened beams from the huge fireplace. The bar has snacks and pub food, with a good selection of beers, wines and spirits. A bit pricey, have one here before visiting other nearby pubs or heading out to dinner.
To eat in The Linen Fold, the inn’s two AA starred restaurant, it’s advised to reserve a table when you book your room as it will get full. The restaurant is based in three connecting and intimate rooms, which are candlelit and continue the hotel’s theme of oil paintings and mysterious dark corners.
The food we sampled we all delicious and fresh, with excellent presentation and the waiter was very helpful in talking through the dishes and chatting to us, making it more personable. In particular, the honeycomb cheesecake dessert stands out in my mind, before we enjoyed a night cap in one of the lounges, adorned with red leather sofas in-front of a roaring fire.
Unfortunately, breakfast was a bit less luxurious and whilst the English breakfast was tasty, it lacked the quality and freshness of dinner. The coffee was also a little disappointing. As it’s now commonplace for everywhere you visit to have rather good, high-grade, fresh coffee, it’s always a let down to be served something more along the lines of instant coffee, especially in this setting.
Served in The Linen Fold, the charisma of the building still made it an enjoyable experience.
Quality of service
We arrived a few hours before check-in to drop 0ff our luggage and explore the town, making the most of the spring sunshine. The receptionist was friendly and when we returned, we quickly got our keys to head to the room, which was stocked with toiletries and tea and coffee facilities. As we were escorted by the concierge, we got a mini-tour of the property as we were staying at the very top of the hotel, a few minutes walk from reception.
Our check-out was also warm and friendly and the payment for dinner and drinks was included in our final bill, making it easy to split between us. One point to note is we used a public car park a short walk from the inn as the car park was full – due to it’s age and location there aren’t quite enough spaces if they’re fully booked.
Overall, it was a very special weekend break and one I personally loved. This was helped in no small part by The Mermaid Inn Hotel having so much character and charisma. It felt very lucky to be staying somewhere with so much history – if these walls could only talk!
The fortified town of Rye is steeped in medieval history and has an enviable and fascinating past that you can experience at every turn. Cobbled streets, secluded passageways and traditional tea rooms make it a favourite for period TV productions and it’s even managed to escape being over commercialised.
Rye itself is the perfect weekend getaway in the South East, with plenty of opportunities for country walks and afternoons spent in classic pubs. The town overlooks the beautiful Camber Sands and has both Rye Castle and Lamb House, former home of author Henry James, to explore.
The ‘Story of Rye’ town model and presentation is a surprise hit at The Rye Heritage Centre, and is ranked #6 on TripAdvisor for things to do in Rye. At the centre you can also collect a free walking tour guide to take you around all the major sights in little over an hour.
Read more about what to do in Rye in by post here.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at The Mermaid Inn and would love to go back in the future. This post is not sponsored in any way and all opinions are my own.